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For most students, an internship is a means of gaining valuable experience to help land a job after graduation. However, only about half of all internships lead to an offer of employment, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Often, this is because interns do not take the initiative to ask for a job once their position ends. If you want to stay on with the company in a paid position, you need to ask for a job after establishing your commitment to the company, along with solid relationships with leaders and a track record of excellent work.
At the beginning of your internship, sit down with your manager to discuss your goals for both the internship and your overall career. Express your desire to earn a job offer after the internship ends, and ask for advice and insight into what you will need to accomplish for that to happen. Not only will this help you perform well during your time as an intern, but it plants the seed with your supervisor regarding your interest. Many internship supervisors assume that interns are primarily trying to get experience and build their networks, and don’t expect students to want full-time employment afterward.
One of the primary purposes of an internship is to build your network and establish relationships with mentors and advocates who can help you throughout your career. Don’t just hide in your cubicle and complete the tasks you have been assigned, but rather take the initiative to introduce yourself to other people in the company and ask about their roles. Take an interest in learning about people who are already established in the company and what they do, and how they got where they are. By fostering these relationships, you’ll build a network of advocates who can go to bat for you when it’s time to ask for a job.
It goes without saying that you should do your best work at your internship, while striving to exceed expectations in every way. Think of your internship as an extended job interview, and put your best foot forward at all times. Pursue every opportunity that you can to show your skills, while still asking questions and demonstrating your willingness to learn. For instance, after you’ve shown that you can handle the work you’ve been given, ask your supervisor if you can attend an executive meeting or sit in on a strategy session. Keep detailed records of all of your accomplishments; don’t expect your supervisor to remember everything you have acheived.
Ask for Feedback
Oftentimes, internships supervisors only provide feedback at the end of the internship, when it comes time to submit the evaluation to your school for grading or credit. If you want to ask for a job, though, seek regular feedback on your performance and insight into how you can improve and move forward. Don’t be annoying and request feedback every day, but check in every few weeks for some constructive criticism.
Make the Ask
Near the end of your internship, meet again with your supervisor and specifically ask about opportunities for employment. Do not expect a job offer to just appear out of the blue. Remind your supervisor of your accomplishments and how you have achieved the goals you set at the beginning of the experience.
If there aren’t any opportunities available right away, keep in touch. Send thank you notes to your supervisor and anyone else you worked with during your time at the company. Before you leave, reach out to HR and recruiting to let them know of your interest in a full-time position when it opens, and keep your contact information up-to-date. Remain in contact with your colleagues, checking in occasionally to say hello and remind them of your interest in the company. If you remain persistent and professional, it is likely to ultimately pay off with a job offer.
An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer and editor, specializing in careers, business, education, and lifestyle topics. The author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), which covers everything from career and financial advice to furnishing your first apartment, her work has also appeared in Young Money, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, USA Today, and a variety of online outlets. She's also been quoted as a career expert in many newspapers and magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Parade. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.